A same-sex couple denied a marriage license by infamous Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis can now legally sue her, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday.
As clerk in Rowan County, Davis made national headlines in 2015 for repeatedly refusing to issue marriage licenses following the Supreme Court’s ruling making same-sex marriage legal nationwide. Davis declined to issue licenses to same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples in protest of the ruling, citing her religious beliefs. She ultimately served time in jail for contempt of court.
U.S. District Judge David Bunning last year dismissed three lawsuits against Davis, including one filed by David Ermold and David Moore, whose filmed visit to Davis’ county office went viral in July 2015. Davis denied marriage licenses to Ermold and Moore twice, though they did eventually obtain one, according to Reuters.
Bunning ruled the lawsuits were moot because a new state law excused clerks from having to sign marriage license forms, The Lexington Herald Leader reported at the time. A federal appeals court on Tuesday overturned that ruling.
Kentucky’s new marriage license laws did not change “past harm” that Davis may have inflicted, according to the three-judge panel on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. The appeals court ruled that Ermold and Moore may proceed with their lawsuit and press their claim for damages.
The couple’s attorney, Michael J. Gartland, is confident his clients will prevail.
“We’re going to get damages, I’m sure of that,” he told the Lexington Herald Leader.
Ermold and Moore previously called the experience of being turned away by Davis “devastating.”
“As a person, she is free to believe and worship as she chooses,” Ermold said in 2015. “As a county clerk ... you have a responsibility to the people of your county.”